Facebook phone kicked to 99-cent bargain bin

With consumers failing to 'like' the device, AT&T is offering the Mark Zuckerberg brainchild at dollar-store prices.

By Aimee Picchi May 9, 2013 10:57AM

An HTC First phone showing the new app Facebook Home for Android during a press event in Menlo Park, Calif. on April 4, 2013 (© Robert Galbraith/Newscom/Reuters)A month ago, Facebook (FB) chief executive Mark Zuckerberg touted his company's first foray into mobile phones, telling consumers the HTC device would "turn your Android phone into a great social phone." 

As it turns out, consumers aren't falling over themselves to "like" the HTC First phone, which has been shunted to the bargain bin after a mere five weeks on the market. AT&T (T) is selling the phone for 99 cents, marked down from the original $350, when bought with a two-year contract. (AT&T publishes the phone's original price at $350, although other sites say it was selling for $99.)

The phone was introduced last month after rumors that the social media giant would venture into mobile devices, given its desire to book more mobile ad dollars. 

The phone includes a Facebook home screen that allows users to tap into their feeds and friends' updates and to start commenting. It also promoted the service's Chat Heads, those bubble-headed icons of your friends that alert you to a new message. 

But the device received mediocre reviews, with CNET calling it a "forgettable handset, from midrange camera hardware to its utilitarian design." Techradar rather hilariously said the phone was "great once you dial back all that Facebook." 

HTC declined to disclose the sales figures for the device when it reported results earlier this month, according to CNET. Anecdotal evidence suggests the phone isn't catching on, the tech site notes. AT&T told CNET that the carrier often offers such price promotions.

The phone was aimed at helping Facebook take over mobile screens from Google (GOOG), whose executives may be having a good laugh over the clearance-level price. 

With its apparent failure to draw in consumers, Facebook now has another battle ahead of it: to convince other mobile device companies that its network is worth putting front and center. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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May 9, 2013 11:50AM
So what ?

Just keep the meaningless stories going so no one watches their U.S. representatives as they are about to pass the Internet Tax Mandate [H.R. 684].

Oh yes --- you will pony up to pay for more spending.

May 9, 2013 1:59PM
When will facebook learn that while people use and may even like their website, they don't their whole lives surrounded by it.  I want to buy a phone that has a good operating system and a good facebook app.  I don't want a mobile facebook feed that can also make phone calls.
May 9, 2013 11:50AM

"Priced to move"  - if bought with a two-year contract?


Free isn't a good deal if there's a "two-year contract" at the checkout.

May 9, 2013 1:42PM
May 9, 2013 2:28PM

I got a phone that does every thing I want in a phone for free.

It sends and receives calls for $10 a month and no contract.

Life is good for me.

May 9, 2013 2:28PM
If Facebook were to make a blender or sneakers, that doesn't mean they would be good at it. Essentially, Facebook is struggling to make the ginormous record profits that the Gods of Wall Street demand; expect these ridiculous products/services to keep emanating from within their bowels. Facebook can also expect a lawsuit from Apple real soon since the phone has "rounded" corners.
May 9, 2013 2:58PM

Hell Facebook is on its way out anyway. Lately been locking up all the time. TIred of all the crap on there too.

May 9, 2013 2:46PM
The main youth demographic is done with FB---too much to keep up with and not enough instant gratification, sound byte-style delivery of information e.g. gifBoom and Snapchat.  I predict major fail on this product.
May 9, 2013 2:49PM
Wouldn't want one, the feds are listening to everything you say.
May 9, 2013 3:02PM
May 9, 2013 4:18PM
The FB gadget is not even good enough for the Dollar store?

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